Punjab CM assures support to industry; wants liquor business to reopen

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.

Chandigarh, (Asian independent) Assuring the industry of support amid the coronavirus crisis, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday directed authorities to provide all industrial units eligible to reopen with requisite approvals, along with required curfew passes, within 12 hours of submission of applications.

Pointing out that Punjab is a small state, the Chief Minister asked how the Centre expected it to cope with the current crisis without GST and without sale of liquor.

Amarinder Singh assured the industrialists that he would raise the issue of central support for industry with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the videoconference meeting with the Chief Ministers on Monday.

At a webinar in which nearly 100 industrialist, foreign ambassadors, diplomats and others participated, the Chief Minister said he had already requested the central government to find innovative solutions to support the industry in this difficult time so that they could continue to pay their labourers and workers.

The industry cannot pay wages endlessly, he said, responding to the concern expressed by the participants on this issue.

Amarinder Singh lamented the state was not getting its share of revenue from the Centre, which had also rejected its request for allowing liquor sales, leading to losses to the tune of Rs 6,200 crore in revenue.

The Centre has to compensate, he stressed, adding that he will raise these concerns during Monday’s videoconference with the Prime Minister, and also again raise the issue of reopening alcohol business to generate revenue for the northern state.

Addressing their concern on this count, the Chief Minister also conveyed to the industry the government of India’s clarification that there would no penal action against any industrial unit if a worker is found infected with coronavirus.

The Chief Minister also assured the industry that there was neither any intention nor direction by his government to impose any criminal liabilities on the industry and their CEOs for Covid-positive cases in their workforce.

However, he urged them to follow all health and medical safety protocols laid down for checking the spread of the coronavirus.

Terming the industry as an integral part of the state’s fight against the Covid crisis, the Chief Minister has directed all departments to support and facilitate the permitted industries to reopen and commence operations, said an official spokesperson.

Pointing out that industry could function as per guidelines if they provide food and shelter to workers, as per the Centre’s locked-in permission to operate, he also made it clear that all orders for approval to industrial unit to resume operations must be sent to the labour, police and other departments concerned so that there is no harassment of industry.